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U.S. mortgage crisis spreads past subprime loans As U.S. home prices fall and banks tighten lending standards, people with good, or prime, credit histories are falling behind on their payments for home loans, auto loans and credit cards at a quickening pace, according to industry data and economists (New York Times)
Wrong Paul: Fantasy, fallacy and factual fumbles from the Republican insurgent. Ron Paul doesn't have much of a chance of winning the Republican nomination, but he persists with his well-funded campaign and even talks of turning it into a permanent "Revolution" that will continue far beyond 2008.
We've given his statements little attention until now. But here we look at some of his more outlandish claims:
* Paul claims that a secret conspiracy composed of the Security and Prosperity Partnership and a cabal of foreign companies is behind plans to build a NAFTA Superhighway as the first step toward creating a North American Union. But the NAFTA Superhighway that Paul describes is a myth, and the groups supposedly behind the plans are neither secret nor nefarious.
* Paul says that the U.S. spends $1 trillion per year to maintain a foreign empire and suggests that we could save that amount by cutting foreign spending. Paul gets that figure by including a lot of domestic programs that he isn't planning to cut, like the U.S. Border Patrol and interest payments on the debt.
* Paul has run television ads touting an endorsement from Ronald Reagan, but he fails to mention that, in 1988, Paul wanted "to totally disassociate" himself from the Reagan administration.
- The problem with Paul's claim is that there are no plans to build a NAFTA Superhighway. Or a North American Union, for that matter. And while the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America does exist, it's just a boring bureaucracy.
Like many conspiracy theories, this one is a mixture of fact and fiction. That scary-looking map, with lines that rumor suggested were drawn to scale, is the product of an actual group called North America's SuperCorridor Organization (NASCO), which is a consortium of public and private entities. But contrary to conspiracy theorists, the map does not show a new highway. Those bright blue lines show only I-35 and I-29 – interstates that already exist. On its Web site, NASCO says it and some of the local governments along I-35 have been referring to that route as the "NAFTA Superhighway" for years. NASCO advocates improvements to existing roads, but is not lobbying for, or planning to build, any new thoroughfares. (Newsweek)
Russia Threatens Nuke Strike Top-ranking Russian military figure Says America had better watch out - Recent statements coming from one of Russia’s highest-ranking military commanders indicate that America and Israel plan to go ahead with war on Iran despite the release of the National Intelligence Estimate late last year. Russia’s military chief of staff General Yuri Baluyevsky threatened the use of nuclear weapons in case of a major threat. He said that, although they have no plans of attacking anyone, they nevertheless "consider it necessary for everyone around the world community to clearly understand, that to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Russia and its allies, military forces will be used, including, preventively, the use of nuclear weapons." (American Free Press)
Al-Qaida Web site was hosted in Phoenix A Web site used by al-Qaida to recruit car bombers, encourage war on the West and provide a forum for Islamic militants went online from Phoenix this week.
The site, a well-known and popular forum for Islamic terrorists and their sympathizers, was the first to report the death of senior al-Qaida leader Abu Laith al-Libi in Pakistan this week.
The north Phoenix company hosting the site took it down Wednesday, just hours after being contacted by The Arizona Republic.
The Web site, www.ek-is.org, facilitates discussions on weapons, explosives and propaganda and often serves as a question-and-answer center for terrorists, a review of the Web site shows.
Bob Cichon, president of Phoenix-based CrystalTech Web Hosting Inc., said he was unaware of the site's content when his company posted it earlier this week. He said his company, which hosts thousands of Web sites, has no association with extremists or terrorists.
(The Arizona Republic)
9/11 Commission controversy The analysis shows that much of what was reported about the planning and execution of the terror attacks on New York and Washington was derived from the interrogations of high-ranking al-Qaida operatives. Each had been subjected to "enhanced interrogation techniques." (MSNBC)
SANDY BERGER MARC GROSSMAN UPDATE: FBI denies file exposing nuclear secrets theft THE FBI has been accused of covering up a key case file detailing evidence against corrupt government officials and their dealings with a network stealing nuclear secrets.
The assertion follows allegations made in The Sunday Times two weeks ago by Sibel Edmonds, an FBI whistleblower, who worked on the agency's investigation of the network.
Edmonds, a 37-year-old former Turkish language translator, listened into hundreds of sensitive intercepted conversations while based at the agency's Washington field office.
She says the FBI was investigating a Turkish and Israeli-run network that paid high-ranking American officials to steal nuclear weapons secrets. These were then sold on the international black market to countries such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. (The Sunday Times)
With friends like these... Facebook has 59 million users - and 2 million new ones join each week. But you won't catch Tom Hodgkinson volunteering his personal information - not now that he knows the politics of the people behind the social networking site - I despise Facebook. This enormously successful American business describes itself as "a social utility that connects you with the people around you". But hang on. Why on God's earth would I need a computer to connect with the people around me? Why should my relationships be mediated through the imagination of a bunch of supergeeks in California? What was wrong with the pub?
And does Facebook really connect people? Doesn't it rather disconnect us, since instead of doing something enjoyable such as talking and eating and dancing and drinking with my friends, I am merely sending them little ungrammatical notes and amusing photos in cyberspace, while chained to my desk? A friend of mine recently told me that he had spent a Saturday night at home alone on Facebook, drinking at his desk. What a gloomy image. Far from connecting us, Facebook actually isolates us at our workstations.
Facebook appeals to a kind of vanity and self-importance in us, too. If I put up a flattering picture of myself with a list of my favourite things, I can construct an artificial representation of who I am in order to get sex or approval. ("I like Facebook," said another friend. "I got a shag out of it.") It also encourages a disturbing competitivness around friendship: it seems that with friends today, quality counts for nothing and quantity is king. The more friends you have, the better you are. You are "popular", in the sense much loved in American high schools. Witness the cover line on Dennis Publishing's new Facebook magazine: "How To Double Your Friends List." - The third board member of Facebook is Jim Breyer. He is a partner in the venture capital firm Accel Partners, who put $12.7m into Facebook in April 2005. On the board of such US giants as Wal-Mart and Marvel Entertainment, he is also a former chairman of the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA). Now these are the people who are really making things happen in America, because they invest in the new young talent, the Zuckerbergs and the like. Facebook's most recent round of funding was led by a company called Greylock Venture Capital, who put in the sum of $27.5m. One of Greylock's senior partners is called Howard Cox, another former chairman of the NVCA, who is also on the board of In-Q-Tel. What's In-Q-Tel? Well, believe it or not (and check out their website), this is the venture-capital wing of the CIA. After 9/11, the US intelligence community became so excited by the possibilities of new technology and the innovations being made in the private sector, that in 1999 they set up their own venture capital fund, In-Q-Tel, which "identifies and partners with companies developing cutting-edge technologies to help deliver these solutions to the Central Intelligence Agency and the broader US Intelligence Community (IC) to further their missions".
The US defence department and the CIA love technology because it makes spying easier. "We need to find new ways to deter new adversaries," defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in 2003. "We need to make the leap into the information age, which is the critical foundation of our transformation efforts." In-Q-Tel's first chairman was Gilman Louie, who served on the board of the NVCA with Breyer. Another key figure in the In-Q-Tel team is Anita K Jones, former director of defence research and engineering for the US department of defence, and - with Breyer - board member of BBN Technologies. When she left the US department of defence, Senator Chuck Robb paid her the following tribute: "She brought the technology and operational military communities together to design detailed plans to sustain US dominance on the battlefield into the next century." - The CIA may look at the stuff when they feel like it
"By using Facebook, you are consenting to have your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States ... We may be required to disclose user information pursuant to lawful requests, such as subpoenas or court orders, or in compliance with applicable laws. We do not reveal information until we have a good faith belief that an information request by law enforcement or private litigants meets applicable legal standards. Additionally, we may share account or other information when we believe it is necessary to comply with law, to protect our interests or property, to prevent fraud or other illegal activity perpetrated through the Facebook service or using the Facebook name, or to prevent imminent bodily harm. This may include sharing information with other companies, lawyers, agents or government agencies." (London Guardian)
Report reveals Vietnam War hoaxes, faked attacks North Vietnamese made hoax calls to get the US military to bomb its own units during the Vietnam War, according to declassified information that also confirmed US officials faked an incident to escalate the war.
The report was released by the National Security Agency, responsible for much of the United States' codebreaking and eavesdropping work, in response to a "mandatory declassification" request, the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) said Monday. - That was a reported North Vietnamese attack on American destroyers that helped lead to president Lyndon Johnson's sharp escalation of American forces in Vietnam.
The author of the report "demonstrates that not only is it not true, as (then US) secretary of defense Robert McNamara told Congress, that the evidence of an attack was 'unimpeachable,' but that to the contrary, a review of the classified signals intelligence proves that 'no attack happened that night,'" FAS said in a statement.
"What this study demonstrated is that the available intelligence shows that there was no attack. It's a dramatic reversal of the historical record," Aftergood said.
"There were previous indications of this but this is the first time we have seen the complete study," he said. (Agence France-Presse)
U.S. Warns Iran Against 'Provocative Actions' Following Incident in Strait of Hormuz The United States issued a stern warning to Iran Monday following an incident near the Strait of Hormuz in which Iranian speedboats veered dangerously close to three U.S. Navy ships and intercepted radio signals said U.S. "ships would explode."
U.S. ships blew whistles, issued radio warnings and took evasive maneuvers to avoid striking the Iranian boats, which motored as close as 200 yards from the American ships by one account. The naval ships armed their weapons, and the five unmarked Iranian boats — believed to belong to the Iran Revolutionary Guard — sped away.
The incident lasted less than 30 minutes, Vice Adm. Kevin J. Cosgriff, commander of the the 5th fleet, told reporters Monday. (FOX)
Destruction of Evidence from Ground Zero at the World Trade Center The Destruction of Evidence from Ground Zero at the World Trade Center following the events of September 11, 2001, occurred, even though the criminal code requires that crime scene evidence be kept for forensic analysis. FEMA had steel recovered from the building rubble destroyed or shipped overseas before a serious investigation could take place.
However, the Associated Press reported in a February 26, 2004, update that not only did the FBI ban the removal of crime scene evidence "after 13 agents stole WTC rubble," but also stated that "'All relevant evidence connected with the WTC crime scene was properly retrieved, catalogued and maintained.'" (Source Watch)
Obama's views have changed with time When he ran for the Senate, Obama called the act a "shoddy and dangerous law" that should be replaced. After he took office, the Senate considered an update that Obama criticized as only a modest improvement and one that was inferior to other alternatives. Still, Obama ended up voting for that renewal and update of the Patriot Act. (USA Today)
NAFTA Superhighway Mid Continental Corridor is under way The American Presidential candidates are discussing the existence of what is contained in the Manitoba Speech from the Throne and the Albertan North American Trade Corridors map. Americans concerned about their country losing sovereignty in a North American Union are circulating YouTubes contrasting the reality of the Speech, and Map, to the words of those denying the Superhighways' existence.
Though our political system differs, Canadians will do well to watch the influence of these contributions from Canada as Americans select their next president. Will the person selected be following the denial policy of President Bush or charting a different course? (The Canadian)
What's Wrong With Fusion Centers Executive Summary - New institutions like fusion centers must be planned in a public, open manner, and their implications for privacy and other key values carefully thought out and debated. And like any powerful institution in a democracy, they must be constructed in a carefully bounded and limited manner with sufficient checks and balances to prevent abuse. Unfortunately, the new fusion centers have not conformed to these vital requirements. (American Civil Liberties Union)
"Doomsday Seed Vault" in the Arctic Bill Gates, Rockefeller and the GMO giants know something we don’t - Is it a coincidence that these same organizations, from Norway to the Rockefeller Foundation to the World Bank are also involved in the Svalbard seed bank project? According to Prof. Francis Boyle who drafted the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989 enacted by the US Congress, the Pentagon is ‘now gearing up to fight and win biological warfare’ as part of two Bush national strategy directives adopted, he notes, ‘without public knowledge and review’ in 2002. Boyle adds that in 2001-2004 alone the US Federal Government spent $14.5 billion for civilian bio-warfare-related work, a staggering sum. (Global Research)
Highway To Hell? Ron Paul's worked up about U.S. sovereignty. Ron Paul wants you to be scared. There's a conspiracy in the land—what he calls a "conspiracy of ideas"—to give up America's sovereignty. It's a shadowy scheme that begins with the NAFTA "superhighway," a road as wide as several football fields that will link Mexico, the United States and Canada. "They don't talk about it and they might not admit it," Paul said at the CNN-YouTube presidential debate last week. He didn't say exactly who "they" are, but perhaps one can guess. "They're planning on [taking] millions of acres … by eminent domain," warned the prickly libertarian. But elected government officials aren't acting alone. There's "an unholy alliance of foreign consortiums and officials from several governments" pushing the idea, Paul wrote in October 2006. "The ultimate goal is not simply a superhighway, but an integrated North American Union—complete with a currency, a cross-national bureaucracy, and virtually borderless travel within the Union."
Only it's not true. The main purveyor of this broad conspiracy theory is Jerome Corsi, coauthor of "Unfit for Command," the book that helped Swift Boat John Kerry's presidential ambitions. His latest offering is "The Late Great U.S.A.: The Coming Merger With Mexico and Canada," which became a best seller on The New York Times's business list this summer. Corsi plays on growing nationalist fears. He sees a scenario in which a North American Union is born and shares a currency, the "amero." Even some right-wing standard-bearers regard the fears as over-blown. Jed Babbin, editor of the conservative newspaper Human Events, says: "I guess there are people who believe in [the plan for a North American Union]. But there are people who believe in Bigfoot." "The evidence is out there," says Corsi.
Like all good conspiracies, the NAFTA superhighway is a strange stew of fact and fiction, fired by paranoia. There is a big road planned. It's called the Trans-Texas Corridor. The idea was unveiled in 2002 by GOP Gov. Rick Perry. And it's true the corridor was originally designed to be 1,200 feet wide, including a highway for vehicles, railway lines, petroleum pipes, electricity and water lines and broadband fiber optics. (It's since been scaled back slightly.) A considerable swath of Texas land, perhaps as much as a half-million acres, will be taken by eminent domain. (Newsweek)
Merck drug company vaccines admits injecting cancer viruses This stunning censored interview conducted by medical historian Edward Shorter for WGBH public television (Boston) and Blackwell Science was cut from The Health Century due to its huge liability--the admission that Merck drug company vaccines have traditionally been injecting cancer viruses (SV40 and others) in people worldwide (WGBH)
Katrina Update: Poor People Lose Again When Hurricane Katrina hit, poor people in Louisiana and Mississippi bore the brunt of it — they lived in the most vulnerable areas and structures, and they were in the worst position to escape the storm and deal with the aftermath.
When Congress voted relief money, it specified that half of it was to go to help low-income victims.
Guess what? As Leslie Eaton reports in today’s Times, Mississippi has spent $1.7 billion in federal grant money, and most of that has gone to programs that have benefited big businesses and well-off individuals.
Only $167 million, or about 10 percent, so far has gone on programs dedicated to the poor. It’s a scandal, or it should be. (New York Times)
U.S. missile shield in Europe aimed against Russia -army chief Washington wants to place a radar in the Czech Republic and 10 missile interceptors in Poland, purportedly to counter a missile threat from Iran and other "rogue" states. Moscow has responded angrily to the plans, saying the European shield would destroy the strategic balance of forces and threaten Russia's national interests. (NOVOSTI)
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